I'm in a bit of a unique situation with my employment and my side business (LLC). I've worked for a medium sized, local Architecture firm for the last 12 years, and am an Associate Architect with them. I like my job and have no plans of leaving. About 9 years ago, I started my architectural photography business to follow my creative passion, and also kindof as a parachute in case the bottom dropped out of the industry. Over the last years, particularly the last 5, the business has done really well.
I photograph projects for other Architects, General Contractors, manufacturers, suppliers and owners, and I do it on my own time. All processing is on my own time. I am very cautious to not put myself in a conflict of interest situation, and will turn down work that could do that. I can't lose my primary employment.
The rub is that I also photograph projects for my own firm. I usually try to do that on my own time, but that is not always possible. If I travel for them and do it on their time, I'm compensated for travel expenses and salary. I always process the images on my own time, and I use 100% my own equipment. After I do a shoot, I give copies of the shots to the firm to use in our marketing. Pretty sweet deal for them, especially because I've gotten very good. I usually turn over about 75 images on a shoot. I have not seen an extra dollar from them for this service I provide.
The deal I've been operating under, with a handshake, is that it is ok to sell these images on my own with no royalties to the firm. In an exchange for using my own time to process and use of my equipment, and still with them not paying me any extra to do this. I get approached a lot by our consulting engineers, contractors, suppliers and others to purchase and use these images. Which I have done.
I met with a trademark/IP attorney last week to start to formalize this deal into something more than a handshake. I do understand that the intellectual property created while working for them is technically theirs, but this is not in my hired job duties. My hope with the attorney is to create and agreement that we both sign that says that I, as the photographer, retain the copyrights to the images and allow their use. And as such, I am allowed to sell usage rights of the images to outside parties at my own discretion and without their knowledge.
The purpose of me posting this is two-fold. First, to see if anyone else has been in this situation, and also to see if is worth spending the ~$800 to have this one-pager drafted. Or if such an agreement already exists for my situation.
Thank you for the help.